That's my Belle.
I say "my", obv I mine "our". But during the day she is mine, for me to smother with gentleness and caring. Ohhhhh, I could literally squeeze the life out of her when I hug her.....do you ever feel like that? You love someone so, so much that you could just squidge them to death? Well, not really death but.....oh I don't know how to describe it at such a late hour.
Yesterday she started at a new school. Every Tuesday she will spend the day at a special needs school to improve her life skills and personal development amongst kids that work at her pace and ability. I was anxious getting her ready and warned her that the kids in this school look/talk/act different with varying emotions and personalities not quite like her peers at secondary school. Basically I didn't want her to think "where the hell have you taken me, Momma?" Forewarned is forearmed, you know.
We arrived on time and I hung around to ask the new teacher what time I had to collect her only the new teacher was quite keen to show us around, including Elle's assistant who has followed her from her secondary school. The school is fully equipped with thousands of contraptions and rooms and technology to deal with children of varying abilities but what I thought I was prepared for, took me by suprise. I knew I'd see poor kiddies who would be severely mentally and physically ill; I knew what to expect but it still broke my heart. I can't tell you how hard it was to withhold my tears. I think what help me stay composed was how smiley and happy everyone was. At Ellie's normal school, you see kids with serious attitudes - varying from gentle quiet kids to full on cockiness and pushing each other on the road. But these kids - all they know is to be happy and be made to feel happy. If only in a perfect world, hey?
Ellie trundled along the rooms and corridors, taking it all in but I couldn't gauge her feelings and I didn't want to ask infront of the teachers. I left to go home 30 minutes later and sat in my car, drove out the gates, pulled over in a lay by and broke down in tears. A combination of anxiety, worry and wondering "what the hell have we allowed to happen, here?" But I got a grip and felt good again that realising that I hadn't left her in tears or with a bunch of monsters. Those 6 hours didn't half drag but come home time, I popped into the school to collect her surrounded by all the assistants of the whole school. And there she was, star pupil all happy and giggly. Her first words were "Mum, I went to pamper club at lunch time and had a foot and back massage". Sold to the worrying momma and sold to the kid who loves being pampered! As we walked back to the car, she yapped on about learning about money (she still struggles with counting the right money and change) and healthy living. Not once did she say "this kid did this or this kid has that or this kid does funny things". For once, in her whole life, she was the kid that wasn't different. And that has been a bloody long time coming.
Here is a little short I did using my treasured iPhone whilst she was still in gleeful mode:
Today she started her floristry course at a special needs college in a nearing town. THIS was the thing we both had great visions of. Plus Ellie got to wear normal clothes and not uniform. She chose her "Team Edward" Tee over a long sleeved long tee, comfy velour trackies and her beloved boots. She was as comfy as comfy can be. The taxi that was to collect her didn't arrive so we spent an hour organising a new one which meant she would be late on her first day. The school and college were so good about this. And then the nail biting 6 hours of "wondering" ensued until she came home. I got a knock at the door at 3pm with an assistant helping her through. The first thing I spotted was a corsage on her coat. I knew it was one of her creations and I squealed with delight. Her face was a picture and a half when she said "this is for you". A lovely, traditional "button hole" of two creamy carnations, wired and taped intricately with green foliage and a pretty blue ribbon bow. She said it was tricky to make and took her ages but overall, she liked the course because she got a hot chocolate at break time. Sniff, sniff. I admired it for a good while as she regaled her day in blow by blow detail. And she has a new friend (Ellie takes a while to make friends - very particular is my girl, you know ;)). Her name is Jasmine. Well, it was Jasmine this and Jasmine that for a while before she went on to explain that lunchtime is COOL. Cos they have sofas to sit on. Well if you knew Ellie, she is all out comfort and sofas in a canteen is like, well - MAJOR!
Its back to her regular schooly-looly tomorrow where she will be able to share with Amy and Bethany (her BFF's) all about her adventures. I can see a change in her already and I think that's a renewed confidence but most of all I think she is just what most special kids are - happy.
And finally, for today....look what I got. Postmarked Buckingham Palace with contents from St James Palace. My heart skipped a beat when I read the post mark. Was it a summons to the Tower of London for a beheading? Was Kate going to ask me to design her wedding dress or perhaps invites? Did she want Belles for a bridesmaid or borrow a pair of my new diamond earrings that Mark bought me for crimbo? Hmmmm?
I opened it as not to rip the envelope because whatever the contents, this envelope was always going to be treasured no matter what. Honest, I was trembling when I opened it and read the letter carefully and smiled. My head is staying on these shoulders after all. Albeit a very big one ;)